Pasochoa Peak And Pita River Canyon
This morning you'll be collected from your Quito hotel for the drive to Pasochoa Reserve, named after the peak that you're about to scale! At 4,200 metres this is an impressive sight and your hike to the summit will take about 3 hours, travelling on grassland trails. At the top you'll have superb views of the surrounding mountains which include Cotopaxi. You'll also be able to see down into the Pasochoa crater. Next you'll have a 3-hour descent through forests and grassland to the Pita River canyon and your lodge for the night, Cotopaxi Pungo. Total hiking time today is about 7 hours.
The Pedregal Trail
After a hearty breakfast at the lodge you head out to Cotopaxi National Park, an area of great natural beauty. The hike begins at the Pita River, fed by glacial meltwater from Mount Cotopaxi, and your route takes you into the national park and towards the archaeological site of Pucara de Salitre. On the way you should see a variety of birds, and, if lucky, some of the resident wild horses, deer and llamas. The scenery is stunning, and the views of the volcanoes are beautiful. The hike includes a stop for a picnic lunch, and concludes at Limpiopungo Lake, where a vehicle is waiting to take you back to the lodge. Total hiking time is around five hours, largely through grassland trails.
The Cotopaxi Trail
Today your route continues along the course of the Pita River. You'll soon enter the flatlands on eastern flank of Cotopaxi, Ecuador's highest mountain, with views of the foothills of Mount Sincholagua as well as the mighty Cotopaxi. You'll travel through varied terrain including grassland and stony plains. Wild horses are often seen in this area and you may spot Andean condors soaring overhead. Later you'll arrive at Chilcabamba Lodge, your home for the night.
This morning you'll have your second peak climb of the trek. Your target is the lowest peak of Ruminahui, regarded as the sentry to Cotopaxi National Park. The climb is not arduous and travels past several waterfalls before reaching the stone plains of the mountain at about 4,600 metres above sea level. As you ascend you'll have views of the eastern side of Sincholagua and of Cotopaxi. Descending from the peak you'll pass the Inca site of Machay and walk through 'the silent valley' before arriving at the scenic Limpiopungo lagoon. Hiking time is about 6 hours and tonight you'll be staying at the lovely Hosteria Tambopaxi.
On The Snow Line
Following breakfast you'll be driven to Cotopaxi mountain refuge, where an hour's walk leads to the mountaineers' lodge. Next there's a hike of about 2 hours to the edge of the glacier. The views are spectacular and, with the help of your guide, you'll be able to see the entire route of your hike. You'll have a great sense of achievement as you survey the scene and you'll certainly want your camera to hand. The descent back to the mountain refuge will take about 2 hours, where you'll board the vehicle for the drive back to Quito.
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